It is a relaxed, happy and enthused Marco Faraone who chats to DJ Mag via Zoom from a sunny terrace at his parents' house in the medieval Tuscany village of Locca. “It’s always exciting to come back to my parents' house,” he says. “It’s the place where I really first started DJing and where I built my first little studio in the basement.”
Faraone has come a long way since then, of course. Known as a DJ and producer who can comfortably turn his hand to many flavours of 4/4 electronic music, from potent deep house to high impact techno, his first release was in 2008. By the early 2010s he was dropping ruthlessly efficient, taut tech-house like his ‘Strange Neighbors’ with Arado or ‘Floor Attack’ with Luca Agnelli. He moved into a more purist techno sound for imprints like Be As One with his 2015 ‘Restrictions’ and ‘Black Air’ on the On Edge Society label, dropping his polished tech-house percussion loops in favour of a more immediate, darker and futurist aesthetic. He’s since released multiple techno tunes on labels like Drumcode, Ovum, Rekids and his own UNCAGE imprint, and has been switching it up again lately with a more accessible vibe, his self-defined ‘hard house’ productions on Defected like ’Armaghetton’, last year’s ‘My Name’ with Lolita Leopard and his latest, ‘Where’s My Phone’? featuring Sailor Jane.
Over the years he’s carved out a career as a respected producer with a deserved reputation for versatility, although Faraone is first and foremost a DJ, his productions driven by everything he’s learnt from many years in DJ booths. “I always ask myself, is it the right move to do different musical styles? Should I maybe just go in one direction? But the answer for me is always just go for what you love to do. Never think about following a format, just do what you are good at. It’s boring to play the same type of music in the club for hours, without any kind of soul or special moments to remember, and if you can produce both techno and house and maintain quality, then why not do that?”
It’s an approach born of Faraone’s particular DJing journey, which began when he was 14 in Locca, “where I started playing little parties with my friends in little local clubs”. His story is one many small-town dance music fans will be familiar with: DJing since he was a teenager, searching for the quality underground music, trying different styles of music, building a home studio, putting on parties with friends — literally building the dance music community that he and his friends wanted in their town.
“When I started I was a hip-hop DJ. I was and still am a big fan of Run DMC, Tupac, Snoop Dogg. Then I DJ’d drum & bass for two years and then my sound evolved into something more groovy and I started DJing house music; then that developed into techno. It was a natural evolution, I wasn’t really following any kind of trend, just following what I liked at the time.”
Landing a DJ residency at Florence’s legendary Tenax club gave Faraone the opportunity to seriously develop his DJ chops. It was a chance to rub shoulders with major DJs and to really get to know the craft of helming an entire night, of playing warm-ups, peak-time, closing, of playing when the club is only half full or when there are queues outside all night — and most importantly learning to build up a rapport with an audience.
“It came around seven or eight years ago,” Marco says. “Tenax was and still is the coolest club in Tuscany and one of Italy’s most legendary clubs. When I was a kid I would try to hide in the line with older friends so I could get in. For me, coming from this little town, when I started to DJ, Tenax was always unreachable — it was like a dream to play there, but a dream that would never come true. I grew up musically by hearing these DJs from all over the world and trying to improve my musical taste and knowledge. I was always by the booth watching what the DJs were doing. It was the club where I fell in love with electronic music.”
“When I’m producing music, I’m producing music with my vision as a DJ. I ask myself, would I play two hours of the same music in a club? I wouldn’t, it’s boring."
Faraone is now a regular on the international festival circuit, playing at huge events like Awakenings, Caprices, Tomorrowland, BPM and Elrow and venues like Spybar Chicago, Panorama Bar and Watergate in Germany, and Amnesia in Ibiza, but still remains dedicated to the values of the resident DJ, and in particular the importance of building a bond with his audience.
His Tenax residency imparted many lessons which he has gone on to apply to his worldwide DJ dates and which define his style: “Back in the day, DJing was creating a journey. You were going there to listen to the music and feel the music, not to see the DJ. It was all about the music, that record that surprised you at a specific moment. Being a resident keeps your feet on the ground. You learn how to play a proper warm-up and how to create a relationship with people... I’m young, but I still live in the old school way of DJing and producing.”
With all of clubland crossing their fingers about the tentative return to full-scale events this year, Faraone is, like the rest of us, quietly hoping that 2022 will see the industry begin to recover. “I feel like we lost two years during the pandemic and at the beginning, I was so sad. I was like, I’m 33, I’m at a key moment of my career, what’s going to happen? I really hope now we can get back to normal, step by step.”
‘Normal’ for Faraone would usually include multiple productions, remixes and a DJ schedule that, pre-Covid, took him all over the world. For this year, so far he’s got plenty lined up: “We have a massive record due out on UNCAGE from Hertz Collision and Gene Richards with remixes from me and Mark Broom, one of my favourite producers. I’ve been working on lots of remixes including one for Josh Wink on Ovum, one for Eats Everything featuring Felix Da Housecat, one for Rekids and more. Then there are some new projects for Adam Beyer’s Drumcode too.”
And presuming the pandemic situation improves, aside from that all-important gig at the our DJ Mag Miami Pool Party, Faraone will be back playing global DJ dates too. He has events in South America, North America and Europe lined up, including plenty at Amnesia Ibiza, where he’ll continue his mission to bring people together with the power of the 4/4 beat.
“When I’m producing music, I’m producing music with my vision as a DJ,” Marco says. “I ask myself, would I play two hours of the same music in a club? I wouldn’t, it’s boring. Nowadays, most promoters and artists just wanna follow one direction and stick to it — but music is fucking freedom! It’s creativity, there are so many different landscapes we can discover in music, so why if you’re able to do that would you not?”